Anyone remember the children's illustrated book, "Tuesday"?? No words. The kind of book where you make up what is going on in the pictures. A book to let your imagination soar. I think of that when I title a post: Tuesday.
It is still dark. I have some plans. I have a few errands to run---the cleaners and get the oil changed on the Plymouth. But, the day is a blank slate. I have such freedom. Lots and lots of free time. Something I longed for as a mom of three boys. When they were all small, it just was not worth it to drag them all to the store. Ben would have a meltdown, and I would have to say no a hundred times to every enticingly packaged item. And as a mom, I was too tired, or too lazy to turn it into an adventure or even a teachable moment.
My mom was mostly a stay-at-home mom. She gave us her all when we were little. As we got older, and were at school most of the day, she started doing the books for my Dad's father's Culligan business. I can remember Poppy coming by with receipts and her huge bookkeeping books. I loved getting to see my Poppy. I was very blessed with wonderful grandparents on both sides. Grandmothers that stayed home and made their families their work. Full gardens, canning, laundry on the line---their work was back breaking. And never ending. There was always something to do. And generations to care for. Both my grandmothers' own mothers were still alive until I was in high school. So, they cared for their own moms, their husbands, their children, and were ready at a moments notice to even feed grandchildren that dropped in. Food was central. I remember shopping with my grandmothers. I can still hear my Mom's Mom, the farmer's wife, clucking over the high price of store bought chickens. She raised her own most of her life. Staying at her house meant always having a bath before bed, and slipping between clean, smooth sheets, and being loved and cared for. Staying with my Dad's Mother meant lots of modern conveniences, and staying up late to watch TV and eat snacks. But, her house, too, was clean and orderly. She enjoyed shopping at farms for the rich cream that came in quart jars to make ice cream, or fix dried corn. And I have stood in her kitchen when that dried corn was being prepared---corn off the cob, blanched, and carefully dried in the oven, and stored away in huge gallon jars. I am sure the recipe called for lots of butter, and fresh cream.
It became fashionable in the sixties and seventies for women to go back to work, and keeping house, being a housewife---I hate that term, as if you are married to the house---fell out of fashion. The women's lib revolution thought they knew better, and pushed their propaganda that daycare could raise the next generation better, that a woman needed fulfillment outside the home. Thankfully, I got to stay home with my boys. And I loved it. Nothing sweeter than a baby, and how they slow down time itself. Their pace taught me to stop and smell the roses and be in the moment. And yet they grew up so fast. And so many teens when my boys were teens were addicted to drugs, and being home, being always aware of what they were doing, and being there was the best drug prevention. And while I worked in the school lunchroom, and volunteered with the PTA for years and years, raising our boys was something Bob encouraged and praised even as I watched as I became the ONLY one at home on my block. Yes, there were lonely moments. I remember looking out the kitchen window longing for a friend. Someone to share the joys and frustrations. That was way before the internet, and cell phone. I used to write lots and lots of long letters to say in contact with friends and relatives, but it make others feel guilty in that they felt they "owed" me a letter.
I journaled. And marveled at each age and its challenges. And now they are all launched. Firstborn has a family all his own. And James plans to marry in September. And Ben moved out when he was eighteen---the clingiest baby, the most independent. Ben likes to figure things out for himself. I miss him more than he will ever miss me. And that is how it should be.
I realize some women have to work. I realize some bought the lie that staying home is a waste of your life. And sadly, because of the high rate of divorce and single motherhood---women who don't even bother to marry, so many women have to work to survive.
Staying home with your children is still in vogue with Christian moms. And moms good at math. As Barbara Bush said, no one looks back at their life and wishes they spent more time at the office. It is the investment of time and love and energy put into the next generation that lasts.
My heart goes out to the moms this week who got word that their sons died in Iraq. A car bomb took four soldiers, and a helicopter crash took a husband and dad---a mother's son. Did those women waste their time raising heros?? No. Never.
Yes, I had it easy. And now my days are wide open for study, for blogging, for reading. And it is time to turn and encourage the next generation of women to examine their priorities, do their jobs as Mom as unto the Lord. Look to Him for your direction, purpose, and help to be the teacher and nurse and example to the generation they bear. Life is so precious, and if moms do not stay home and highlight that gift, more and more will be discarded. Ann Coulter points out in her book that the 99 percent filling our prisons were from single moms. We have been given these stats, these warnings, and we need to wake up as a nation and value marriage, a mom and a dad raising the next generation in an intact home.
Our granchild drives the parents crazy constantly asking about the other. When my son calls after picking the grandchild up from daycare, the grandchild keeps chirping, "mom" "mom" "mom" wanting to know where is mom, are we going home to mom, and wanting that completeness. And when the grandchild is with mom, and my son is out of town, I have been told that the grandchild drives mom crazy asking where is dad. A child needs a mom AND a dad.
I am so sorry we don't live closer so that our grandchild goes to daycare. My friend, Mary, gets to keep her grandchildren so that her daughter can teach school, and her daughter-in-law can get a break. Her grandchildren always know they are loved by relatives. Family. As God intended. I cringe every time I hear stories of daycare children abandoned in hot vans, or even abandoned and forgotten in cribs at the daycare. There was a story in the news recently of a mom who showed up at a closed daycare, and she could hear her baby crying inside.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of getting to stay home with my sons. I pray that You guide and direct women today to look to You for what is best for their families. Your will be done. I pray that You help me to be encouraging, not critical. A help, not hurtful. Life is so short. But, when I was a mom with children sick, hurt, or needing watched 24/7, there were times I was lonely. And there were times I felt unappreciated. Poor. Restricted. Tired. But, there were also wonderful times of peace, adventures, fun, marvel, and looking back, it all went by so quickly. No one wants to listen to an old, gray haired, fat lady. And our rooms stand empty. Dust collects on the toys. Please comfort the moms who lost their sons to a car bomb in Iraq, and a helicotper crash and please help the moms who are still busy helping disabled sons. Sons scarred by war. Your will be done. Only You, Lord, can turn our country around and protect the institutions You invented to protect and preserve the human race---especially family, and marriage. In Jesus name. Amen.